Sunday, May 17, 2009
Professor of Poetry at Oxford is a position I take more seriously than Poet Laureate, though far less fuss is made of it in the media. Derek Walcott withdrew from the contest in protest at what can only be described as a smear campaign against him by unknown individuals. Apparently, "Around 100 Oxford academics, mostly women, were sent a dossier detailing allegations of sexual harassment made against Walcott in 1982 and 1996 when he was teaching at Harvard and Boston universities in the United States." (Daily Telegraph). So these are unproven allegations from 13 and 27 years ago. I have my reservations about Walcott as a poet, but even so, regard him as a much more significant writer than Ruth Padel. As it is, Padel has declined to make the most effective protest she could about this affair, which would be to withdraw from the context. Likewise, the university could have postponed the election.